Feast of the day

SAINT LOUIS King of France (1215-1270)

8/25/2020 12:00:00 AM

King of France

        The mother of Louis told him she would rather see him die than commit a mortal sin, and he never forgot it. King of France at the age of twelve, Louis made the defence of God's honor the aim of his life. Before two years, he had crushed the Albigensian heretics, and forced them by stringent penalties to respect the Catholic faith. Amidst the cares of government, he daily recited the Divine Office and heard two Masses, and the most glorious churches in France are still monuments of his piety. When his courtiers remonstrated with Louis for his law that blasphemers should be branded on the lips, he replied, "I would willingly have my own lips branded to root out blasphemy from my kingdom."

        A fearless protector of the weak and the oppressed, St. Louis was chosen to arbitrate in all the great feuds of his day, between the Pope and the Emperor, between Henry III and the English barons. In 1248, to reclaim the land which Christ had walked, he gathered the chivalry of France and embarked on a Crusade. During the conflict, St. Louis proved himself the truest of Christian knights, receiving both victory and defeat, remaining constant in sickness and captivity. When held captive at Damietta, an Emir rushed into his tent brandishing a dagger red with the Sultan's blood. The Emir threatened to stab St. Louis unless he conferred knighthood, as the Emperor Frederick had done with Facardin. St. Louis calmly replied that no unbeliever could perform the duties of a Christian knight. When offered freedom on condition of blaspheming, and despite a threat to massacre the Christians, St. Louis inflexibly refused.

        The death of St. Louis' mother recalled him to France; but once order was reestablished, he again set forth on a second crusade. In August, 1270, his army landed at Tunis, and though victorious over the enemy, St. Louis succumbed to a malignant fever. He received the Viaticum kneeling by his camp-bed, and gave up his life for God.